The nationally 18th-ranked Ferris State University men's ice hockey team started off the New Year 2011 unbeaten as the Bulldogs earned a 2-2 overtime tie against 19th-ranked Minnesota this Saturday (Jan. 1) evening at the 20th annual Mariucci Classic held at the University of Minnesota's Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis, Minn.
The Bulldogs, who are now 9-8-4 overall this season as a result of the deadlock, concluded the two-day holiday tournament with a 0-1-1 ledger following a 3-2 setback to eventual tournament champion Bemidji State in Friday's (Jan. 31) tourney opener.
Ferris State was the first to strike as the Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead at 4:09 into the game on sophomore right wing Matthew Kirzinger's (Leroy, Saskatchewan) third goal of the season. Kirzinger wristed a shot into the Minnesota goal past netminder Kent Patterson during a Ferris State power-play opportunity. Senior defenseman Scott Wietecha (Wolverine Lake) took a pass from senior center Justin Menke (Shamrock, Saskatchewan) and fired a shot toward Patterson which bounced off his pad to Kirzinger, who converted on the opposite side.
The one-goal lead by Ferris State held up until 2:09 remaining in the opening period when Minnesota's Jake Hansen scored on backhander off a rebound shot. Both teams would end the first 20 minutes of action with a combined 24 shots on goal.
A goal by junior Brett Wysopal (LaGrange Park, Ill.) with 3:32 to go in the second period gave Ferris State the lead back as the Bulldog defenseman scored his second on the year. Wysopal fired a nifty wrist shot from inside the left circle which cleared the left shoulder of UM goaltender Kent Patterson and landed in the upper right corner of the Golden Gophers' net. Matthew Kirzinger garnered the lone assist on the Wysopal goal to go along with a lamplighter to account for his first multiple-point game of this season. Ferris State controlled most of the play in the second period as indicated by its 11-4 margin in shots on goal.
The score remained 2-1 until 7:38 of the third period when Minnesota converted on a man-advantage as Jay Barriball tallied the equalizer on a redirect tip off a one-time shot high above the slot from Jake Hansen. Neither team was able to get on the scoreboard in regulation and the five-minute overtime due largely to the productive play of both team's goaltenders in Kent Patterson and senior Pat Nagle (Bloomfield), who was tabbed as the game's third star.
Minnesota would claim a 32-29 edge in shots on goal while both teams converted one of three power-play chances.
Pat Nagle (9-6-4) registered 32 saves in just under 65 minutes of action for Ferris State, which included 13 in the first and 11 more in the third period. Kent Patterson (7-3-3) concluded the evening with 27 stops for Minnesota, which sports a 9-8-3 overall record on the season.
The Golden Gophers' Jake Hansen earned first star of the game recognition while Ferris' Matthew Kiriznger achieved second star kudos.
Following the overtime, there was some confusion about whether a three-round player shootout would be held. However, the referees indicated there would be no shootout held much to displeasure of the 9,132 fans in attendance.
Ferris State returns to Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) action next weekend, Jan. 7-8, with a two-game road series against the Bowling Green State Falcons in Bowling Green, Ohio. Opening faceoff is 7:05 p.m. (EST) for both outings and the weekend series finale between the two teams will be televised on the Buckeye Cable Sports System (BCSN).
Notes: Brett Wysopal was named to the six-member Mariucci Classic All-Tournament Team . . . Ferris State played to it fourth tie of this season . . . Matthew Kirzinger has compiled four points (1-3=4) in his last five games following a goal and a helper in tonight's contest . . . The Bulldogs are 2-4-2 all-time at the Mariucci Classic . . . Ferris State sports a 1-3-1 ledger against Minnesota to date in its all-time series with the Golden Gophers . . . With its tie against #19th-ranked Minnesota, Ferris State is 3-2-4 on the season versus nationally-ranked opponents . . . Pat Nagle became the seventh Ferris State goaltender to eclipse the 2,000 career saves plateau following his 32 stops against Minnesota and presently has amassed 2,023 career saves in 83 appearances . . . Twelve of FSU's last 14 appearances have been decided by two goals or less with the Bulldogs chalking up a 5-5-4 record . . . Brett Wysopal, who posted a second-period lamplighter versus Minnesota, has produced a season-best five points (2-4=5) in the second period this campaign.